The midterm elections are coming up in less than two months in the United States. These elections, happening halfway through a president’s term, focus on members of Congress, governors, and other state-wide and local candidates.
This year is crucial – more LGBTI and female candidates are running than ever before, and there are strong indications of a higher voter turnout than usual.
To understand the gravity of these elections, and the importance of voting and being active, GSN spoke to Geoff Wetrosky, the campaign director of HRC Rising.
HRC Rising is the Human Rights Campaign’s grassroots effort fighting for progress, including voting in elections. They currently have 35 people on the ground in six key states for the elections. The key states are Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Choose voting, not cynicism
‘We have identified 52 million equality voters to mobilize,’ Wetrosky told GSN. ‘They are, in large part, historically people who don’t turn out for midterm elections.’
These equality voters are those most likely to support pro-equality candidate. When seeking them out, HRC identified 60% being women, 40% being women of color, and 30% as younger voters.
Left-leaning voters don’t have a great track record of turning out for midterms, but, as Geoff told us hopefully, there’s been ‘increased energy in ways we haven’t seen in a number of years’.
Still, in HRC’s polling, they also found a fair amount of cynicism.
‘A good chunk of equality voters are turned off by the election of Donald Trump, and find it a de-motivating factor to vote,’ Wetrosky revealed.
‘They think, “If he can get elected, what’s the point of participating in this process?”‘
Cyncism, however, never helped the fight for progress — and it certainly won’t help turn Congress around.
The historicity of these elections
There’s a good chance the midterm elections will shake things up in a profound and exciting way.
Wetrosky explained of HRC’s work: ‘We make it very clear – this is an opportunity not just to show up for ourselves, but for others too.’
Being an equality voter isn’t just voting for the LGBTI community. It’s for all harmed by this administration — women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and beyond.
6 November could be a historic day, both for voter turnout and the diversity of candidates elected.
‘We want to double the amount of LGBTQ people in the Senate,’ Wetrosky said of one exciting prospect. The goal is to re-elect Tammy Baldwin, currently the only Senator who’s publicly out, and also elect Kyrsten Sinema, thereby doubling the representation (every little step forward counts).
By electing pro-equality candidates, we have a better chance of passing the Equality Act — unequivocally the most important piece of legislation for LGBTI people in the US.
So what can you do?
The first thing is to be informed
‘We’re making sure people understand what they need for voter ID, where their polling places are, and who to contact if they experience any issues while voting,’ Wetrosky said.
As it stands, voter ID laws currently threaten the voting status of transgender Americans and more.
HRC also has the Equality Voter Action Center, which allows people anywhere in the country to help elect pro-equality candidates. Even if you’re from California (like me), you can take steps to make a difference in the six key states.
You can call voters or even join the Equality Corps.
‘If we don’t show up, there will be no check on Donald Trump and his administration,’ Wetrosky warned.
‘People are understanding the importance of midterm elections. They’re also anxious to pull the emergency brake on Donald Trump, and they’re abhorred by his discrimination, such as allowing businesses to refuse people.
‘Enough is enough.’
The midterm elections are on 6 November.